Pakistan not to ‘rest or relent’ until Kashmiris attain freedom from Indian occupation: Amb Munir Akram

New York, February 05 (KMS): Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram has said that Pakistan will not “rest or relent” until the Kashmiri people realized their right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Speaking in a webinar commemorating Kashmir Solidarity Day, the Pakistan envoy said that the Kashmir dispute was the unfinished agenda of self-determination in the South Asian sub-continent.

At the outset, Ambassador Akram welcomed the distinguished panelists, reminding the audience that it was a day to reaffirm “our unflinching support to our Kashmir brothers and sisters” waging a heroic and epic struggle against India’s barbaric occupation for more than seven decades, and salute them for their valiant struggle and exemplary sacrifices.

“We will continue to utilize every opportunity to advocate and promote the just Kashmiri struggle for self-determination and to expose India’s cruel oppression and naked occupation of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Pakistan, he added, would continue to demand from India to reverse its unilateral and illegal measures instituted since 5th August 2019; end its oppression and human rights violations against the people of Kashmir; and halt and reverse the demographic changes in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strong advocacy of the rights of Kashmiris has revived global recognition of India’s grave and human rights violations and crimes in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Ambassador Akram said, adding that the world was now become aware that a just resolution of the Kashmir dispute was essential for durable peace and security in South Asia.

The Security Council, he pointed out, in its several resolutions reaffirmed right of self-determination of the Kashmiris and for its exercise, outlined the method of fair and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices. Having accepted the principle of self-determination, India had since, initially through obfuscation and deceit, and later through oppression and force, prevented the holding of a UN supervised plebiscite in violation of a series of UNSC resolutions.

“On 5th August 2019, India proceeded through unilateral and illegal measures to resort to an attempt at outright annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir in what India’s extremist rulers have themselves ominously called a ‘Final Solution’ for Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. The attempts to bring a demographic change in the occupied territory constituted flagrant violations of the UN Charter, the relevant UNSC resolutions and international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

During the last two years, Ambassador Akram said, India imprisoned the entire Kashmiri political leadership; illegally detained 15,000 Kashmiri youth; tortured many of them; extra-judicially killed hundreds of young Kashmiri boys; used rape as a weapon of war; put down peaceful protests violently, blinding even young children with pellet guns; imposed collective punishments by demolishing and burning entire neighbourhoods and villages; and curtailed the freedom of religion and expression. In 2021, he said, at least 210 Kashmiris were extra-judicially killed, and the new year also continued to witness increased level of violence and state terrorism as 16 innocent Kashmiris lost their lives during the first month alone.

The worst fears of the independent journalist community in Indian-occupied Kashmir, he added, were confirmed in mid-January when a small number of journalists aligned with the Indian government stormed the Kashmir Press Club with the assistance of occupational forces and locked up the building, sparking widespread criticism. More than 40 journalists had been raided or questioned by police in occupied Jammu and Kashmir over the last two years, he said. Others had also been placed on no-fly lists which prevent them from leaving India. On January 5, a 26-year-old Kashmiri journalist, Sajad Gul, was arrested after posting a video of a protest in occupied Kashmir on social media.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he said, had also remained engaged with the human rights situation in Kashmir and called for the release of human rights defenders and other political prisoners. International media and the human rights organizations had also been expressing condemnation of worsening human rights situation, including in the recent report of Human Rights Watch released in January 2022. The Hindutva-led government of India blatantly continued to deny access to OHCHR, to Special Procedures, international media and human rights organization to the occupied territory.

He said in September 2021, the Pakistani government also released a dossier containing evidence on the entire range of gross, systematic, and widespread violations of human rights perpetrated by Indian forces.

Quite evidently, the Pakistani envoy said, the “Hindutva” ideology that asserts religious and ethnic supremacy of Hindus in India remained the driving force behind the pattern of targeted violence against Muslims. Recent social media videos showing Hindutva religious leaders in India calling for genocide against Muslims had sparked global outrage and prompted demands for action.

Noticing the dangerous trend, he said, Professor Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch, warned in unambiguous words during a congressional briefing in the United States last month that a genocide of Muslims could very well happen in India. Earlier, his organization issued a similar alert about possible atrocity crimes in Kashmir. Recently, Stoke White had issued a report based on more than 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021, and had uncovered war crimes perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces.

The UN Secretary-General had re-affirmed that the UN’s position on Jammu and Kashmir is based on the UN Charter and the resolutions of the Security Council, he noted. During the last two years, the Security Council had met three times to consider the situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The UN General Assembly President, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other high-ranking UN human rights experts, special rapporteurs, and human rights organizations, had on numerous occasions expressed grave concern over India’s massive atrocities and crimes in occupied Kashmir.

The guests included Azerbaijan Ambassador Yashar Aliyev, Ms. Amina Kader, who represented the OIC Observer Mission to the UN, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey, Oncu Keceli and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Alateek. They expressed their solidarity with the Kashmiri people for their inalienable right to self-determination and called for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Among the panelists were Kashmiri activists Dr Imtiaz Khan, Farhan Chak, Dr Rabia Akhtar, Muzammil Ayyub Thakur and Shaista Safi as well as British historian and writer Victoria Schofield.

A documentary, prepared by the Pakistani Mission to the UN, highlighting Indian atrocities in Kashmir was also screened.